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vjmorton

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Posts posted by vjmorton


  1. On 6/8/2016 at 3:36 PM, Darren H said:

    Your observation makes me realize that I didn't really care for Love & Friendship because I wasn't the least bit attracted to Lady Susan, so the logic of the film was lost on me. I've always joked that there is a direct correlation between the extent of my crush on Rohmer's leading ladies and my fondness for his films. And now I'm going to be distracted for the rest of the day by the idea of a Rohmer adaptation of Austen's novella!

     

    In what sense of "attracted"? I suppose "crush" may answer that, but one is obliged to hope that others, especially those with whom one disagrees, aren't that ... one is tempted to say "not that shallow," but charity requires the accentuation of possibility. So let me say instead that I am confident in Mr. Hughes's critical sensibilities as being higher and more refined than such a vulgar reading.


  2. On 2/20/2016 at 7:01 PM, morgan1098 said:

    There's a feminist angle at the end but it rings hollow in light of everything that comes before. What happens at the end did not strike me as "enlightenment" or "release," that's for sure. Movies like this usually blame fear and religion/superstition for oppressing women, but this one only reinforced that the superstition is warranted.

     

    Maybe that is exactly what the film "wanted to say."


  3. ... Ah, different scenes it is. Now that I think about it, Burgess Meredith dies after Rocky loses his first fight with Clubber, right?

     

    No ... in the dressing room beforehand. Then only Paulie is left in Rocky's corner for the actual fight and he just tells Rocky, "go kick his ass" -- which is NOT how to handle a Clubber Lang.


  4. One other thought that didn't fit well into replying to Steve. The (second-listed here) title ... it refers to a doctrine of contract law that the terms of a contract don't apply if they cannot be fulfilled because of exceptional cases that neither party can foresee. "Force Majeure" (obviously a French term, from Napoleonic code) is similar to, but slightly broader than, the Anglo-Saxon common-law "act of God" doctrine in that FM also includes what are obviously acts of men -- war, revolution, riot -- provided neither party contributed to them.

     

    What that has to do with the film should be clear enough if you've seen it.


  5. And this made me think that it tended to be, if not too verbal, at least too explicit and on the nose. Over time, though, I began thinking more of Rohmer and Bergman, and the talkiness and on-the-nose-ness started to work better.

     

    I never even had that problem because, as I said on Twitter, "when a man does something bad ... we don't talk about it and act around it ... that movie is THE LONELIEST PLANET; we talk about it and hash it out and the result is nauseating ... that movie is FORCE MAJEURE.

     

     

    As for the spoiltudinous points (which I just snipped) ... I think it was reasonably clear (certainly I instantly took it that way) that

    the wife did contrive the snow emergency to redeem him in the kids' eyes

    , which is why what happens at the end is exactly right (though obviously somewhat contrived ... the film is a symmetrical fairy tale about, among other things,

    self-satisfied feminism that is the West's de facto ideology. And note how it has a clean conscience at the end, i.e., no breakdown as men carry the children

    ).

     
    Or to flesh that last out a bit ... Was it consistent with what she had been before? Arguably not, but then had the earlier [spoiler event] been consistent with what he had been? Not especially ... but that's the whole point. The exceptional case is, by definition, exceptional.

    But he is capable of self-criticism (too capable, I'd say) and she is not.


  6.  

     

    I get that the nastiness may play differently in a Korean context, but there's a difference between saying that and actually being Korean. Which, you know. I'm not. 

     

    Korean films are NOTORIOUS for wild tone shifts and the use of gore and cruelty in contexts that Westerners consider inappropriate. It's practically the defining feature of the country's cinema and exhibited by almost all its significant auteurs to at least some degree -- Kim Ji-woon, Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk, Im Kwon-taek, (here) Bong Joon-ho and lesser figures. I remember being at the Toronto Festival retrospective in 2002, one of the earliest contemporary ones of its size and breadth in the West, and, almost to a man, the folk there made that observation.

     

     

    This is another way to get at the point I was trying to make above regarding the utter conventionality of the film.

     

    How so ... how would something being typical of Korean cinema in a way that diverges from American and European norms means SNOWPIERCER would look conventional to anyone reading a conversation conducted in English language using the Latin alphabet. Indeed, why not the opposite? (Yes, I'm making the case for exoticism. I am aware of this. It is a Good Thing.)


  7. I get that the nastiness may play differently in a Korean context, but there's a difference between saying that and actually being Korean. Which, you know. I'm not. 

     

    Korean films are NOTORIOUS for wild tone shifts and the use of gore and cruelty in contexts that Westerners consider inappropriate. It's practically the defining feature of the country's cinema and exhibited by almost all its significant auteurs to at least some degree -- Kim Ji-woon, Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk, Im Kwon-taek, (here) Bong Joon-ho and lesser figures. I remember being at the Toronto Festival retrospective in 2002, one of the earliest contemporary ones of its size and breadth in the West, and, almost to a man, the folk there made that observation.

     

     

     

    To get to Steven's ideological objections ... I guess I can't see the film as nihilistic in a bad way because I see revolution (and the specific act of blowing up the train) as itself as a form of nihilism ("let justice be done or the heavens fall," I said on the away home to the friend with whom I saw it), both absolutely and within the logic of the film. But then I also don't see Nietzsche as (merely) a nihilist but also the profoundest critic of nihilism (which in a phrase is almost exactly my reaction to SNOWPIERCER).

     

    I would love to see the film as a critique of nihilism, even a popcorn one. I'm just not there with the film.

     
    I don't see how it could be more explicit -- pissed-offedness at God and revolutionism lead to the end of man.

  8. I posted the following on Twitter ... yesterday

     

    SNOWPIERCER (Bong, USA/S.Korea, 2014, 8) Didn't think much of Chris Evans, Tilda might be *too* good, the logic of the allegory would've been clearer if film ended one scene earlier (even so, c'mon ... what's gonna happen next), and too much of action is today's Parkinson's-operator-meets-Cuisinart-editor style ... BUT ... take away (almost) all of that (Tilda) ... and we'd been talking a year-best contender for me -- a film bursting with ideas and the proverbial Korean miles of brutal and self-conscious style (a specific music cue to a certain Kubrick film) -- when it has room to breathe, the editing is sensationally good. Also the progressively different looks of traincars (Skandies Scene FYC: the "school"), Song and Hurt and a taciturn Ivanov, the Nietzschean vision of society and eventually the universe, the critique of revolution,

     

    To get to Steven's ideological objections ... I guess I can't see the film as nihilistic in a bad way because I see revolution (and the specific act of blowing up the train) as itself as a form of nihilism ("let justice be done or the heavens fall," I said on the away home to the friend with whom I saw it), both absolutely and within the logic of the film. But then I also don't see Nietzsche as (merely) a nihilist but also the profoundest critic of nihilism (which in a phrase is almost exactly my reaction to SNOWPIERCER).


  9. I understand and accept that my views will be deemed offensive by some. I can't help that, but I think it is incumbent on us to accept that there is a limit to how far we can expect one another to stretch, and to recognize that deeply held disagreements do not necessarily equal disrespect.

     

    BURN THE HERETIC!!!!


  10.  

     

     

    Waddya know ... you set up an affirmative-action standard, foreground characters' sex while denying sex differences and the result is ... this.

    Especially when you have overwhelmingly male filmmakers copying male filmmakers in genres defined for decades by vying for the eyeballs of 18 to 35-year-old males.

     

     

    If the last of those three is true (and it is) ... the other two are irrelevant.

     

    Only if we assume that neither nature nor nurture and culture has given men and women tendencies to see and express things differently. And, since essentially no one thinks that, well. 

     

    I'm not making myself clear. I am saying that if a genre's audience is essentially young males (or in principle, any Definable Group X), any commercial, capital-intensive enterprise in that genre must necessarily focus on what Group X wants. That usually will be so, and always should be so, regardless of the characteristics of the people behind the camera, now or in the past.


  11.  

    Waddya know ... you set up an affirmative-action standard, foreground characters' sex while denying sex differences and the result is ... this.

    Especially when you have overwhelmingly male filmmakers copying male filmmakers in genres defined for decades by vying for the eyeballs of 18 to 35-year-old males. 

     

    If the last of those three is true (and it is) ... the other two are irrelevant. And the "sexism" is not a problem that won't be exacerbated by self-conscious attempts by the feminist-inclined to fix it (as Robinson inadvertently proves).


  12. And to the extent that the Christian character has an arc, it is that the two main girls do, in fact, "corrupt" her (even if it is only by getting her to swear in the final scene).

     

    But if you set aside the religious stuff, this is certainly a really good portrayal of teenaged life -- including the ability of teenaged kids to cynically push the social-justice buttons of adults for their own selfish gain (whether it's getting out of gym class, nabbing free fast food, or begging for money that gets spent on ice cream etc.). It's not clear to me whether the film takes the girls' side in those matters, but hey.

     

    Re the first point, I don't think you're giving enough credit to the film's sweet tone and how that makes that moment play. (Admittedly I don't share that scruple in most circumstances, but ... what the hell.)

     

    And re the second, I saw less of that angle here (and there's less as the film goes on) than in TOGETHER, which I think is Moodysson's film and which really is about that topic -- what might childhood rebellion look like in a culture that (claims to) value that.


  13. Richard Brody @ New Yorker calls the film "a pernicious fraud—an aesthetic one and a historical one."

     

    Oy vey ...

     

    Or to be a little more precise ...

     

    (1) It is bad criticism and historical special-pleading to attack any single, given film for telling a historical story that (stipulated for right now) may be atypical. Or (more likely the real cause of Brody's dyspepsia) that doesn't serve as an obvious ideological weapon in the present day.

     

    (2) It is a historical fact that Jews, for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with Elders-esque rubbish, were "overrepresented"* in the ranks of European socialists and communists in the 19th and, relevantly here, first half of 20th centuries.** And equally a fact that the Polish Communist regime, while very far from the worst of its ideology, engaged in bloody purges throughout the late 40s.

     

    (3) If Pawlikowski's point were to whip up hatred of The Perfidious Jews using Cosmopolitan Bolshevism to oppress the poor Polish people ... why show her as disillusioned?

     

    ---------------------------------

    * I hate that word ... it implies there is such a thing as group representation and embodies a whole host of false assumptions about human society. But there is simply no very good synonym for its use in a strictly mathematical sense.

    ** This is a fact often bragged about by those leftist Jews who think socialism and communism to be good things.


  14. Not sure what they're thinking here. Sofia Coppola isn't exactly a gritty, realistic, Dark Knight-style director.

     

    To quote Guy Lodge from Twitter:

     

     

    Whoa, Sofia Coppola's making a new LITTLE MERMAID? Two of my favourite things right there, but not a combination I'd ever have dreamed up. Makes perfect sense, though, given that The Little Mermaid is essentially frustrated by her gilded cage of cosseted aristocracy.

     


  15.  

    The New Yorker's amazing new Film Reviews by Cotton Mather.

     

    This was a pretty fun read until the 12 Years a Slave capsule. Blech.

     

    Exactly. "Those fundies are a buncha raaaaacists," the New Yorker's readers will cluck-cluck to themselves, well-stroked in their presentist prejudices. Those prejudices will, of course, remain in the privacy of their Reading Rooms and play no role in their broader lives (or ours).


  16. For the record: 

     

    The New Yorker's amazing new Film Reviews by Cotton Mather.

     

    “Gravity”

    ★☆☆☆☆

    A Brazen Woman earns the Wrath of God for working outside the Home and wearing her Hair short like a Man’s. While it is a diverting Pleasure to witness her sundry Punishments and Tortures at the Hands of an Angry Creator, those of sound Judgment will find it exceedingly unlikely that she would know how to pilot that Chinese Shuttle. Also, I am not sure, but I think everyone is floating because they are Witches?

     

    Ugh ... 

     

    That image of normative Protestantism is the mirror image of The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Made worse by its appearance in the pages of the New Yorker rather than, say, the humor page on Christianity Today.


  17.  

    Tom Snyder explains why the war on drugs is the greatest thing since the prohibition.  (Yes, seriously.)

    (emphasis mine)

    The fact is, however, during Prohibition, the consumption of alcohol did indeed decline. Thus, Prohibition did indeed inhibit drinking.

     

    Actually, this is mostly agreed upon.

     

    That "Prohibition didn't work," if by "work" we mean the "techne" sense of "reduced alcohol consumption," is a myth (in both senses) based on at most the experiences of a handful of urban centers (and movies and books and whatnot set in those environs). Plus a goodly helping of contemporary folks' will to believe.

     

    What serious public-health officials will say is that (1) the countervailing costs were too great (see the previous paragraph, but even if so, it's a value judgement, not a fact); and (2) the decline in drinking was faster in the pre-Prohibition 10s than in the 20s, had flattened out entirely by the late-20s, and didn't increase that much when Prohibition was repealed in the mid-30s (all true stats as far as they go; which isn't very).


  18. Is there some kind of Inarritu fanboy thing I'm not getting here, or is this simply a case of Opie Allergy? What is it about Inarritu's previous films that make people think him uniquely (or even "especially") qualified to helm a live-action blockbuster of Rudyard Kipling childrens-ish short stories ... cuz I'm not seeing it (tho I haven't seen BIUTIFUL). Are they all gonna uncannily intersect at the end or something?

     

    Besides, any rational good expectations for this project would have to assume that the script won't be post-colonially-problematized-to-death ... and I doubt that.


  19. Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when you're part of a team. Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when you're part of a team. Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when you're part of a team. Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when you're part of a team.


  20. P.S. When Slate reviewers call it anti-business, nobody bats an eye.  When Fox-Business Channel calls it such, wowzers.  Such vitriol.  Still, the above-quote is the better interpretation.

     

    This.

     

    Trust nobody who attacks Fox (and/or conservative commentary on films generally) as beneath contempt or consideration until you see their reaction when left-leaning outlets make essentially the identical point, albeit with a different normative conclusion. That is, to cite the proper nouns in this case, "THE LEGO MOVIE is anti-capitalist/anti-business! Boo!" (Fox, Breitbart, etc.) and "THE LEGO MOVIE is anti-capitalist/anti-business! Hooray!" (Ebiri, Slate, Criticwire) are equally brilliant or equally risible.

     

    ADDENDUM: I have not seen THE LEGO MOVIE yet (will remedy in a few hours) and thus have no opinion on the substantive merits of these critical claims.

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